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Coping behaviors and the psychological and social adaptation of female immigrants from English-speaking Caribbean countries

Dissertation
Author: Cheril Thompson
Abstract:
Adapting to a new society and culture is difficult and stressful for many immigrants. The limited research on and increase in the growth of the Caribbean immigrant population in the United States point to a growing need to understand factors that impact psychological and social adaptation. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationships among social support, ethnic identity, socioeconomic status, psychological adaptation, and attitude towards seeking professional psychological help among Caribbean immigrant women. Seventy female Caribbean immigrants between 21 and 70 years of age participated in the study. A semistructured interview that included administration of the Personal Resource Questionnaire, Symptom Checklist-90-R, Hollingshead Index of Socioeconomic Status, Attitude Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale, and Phinney's Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure was used to obtain data about participants' adjustment experiences, coping strategies, and psychological symptomology. Hierarchical multiple regression and correlation analyses were used to assess the relationships between the variables highlighted in the study. Findings indicated no significant relationship between the social support and psychological adaptation, between socioeconomic status and utilization of services, and between ethnic identity and psychological adaptation. However, social support was positively correlated with ethnic identity and negatively correlated with attitude towards seeking professional psychological help. As immigrant populations continue to increase, the need also increases for mental health professionals to provide relevant services to immigrants, particularly women who are plagued with problems of ''inequality'' and unfairness in the workplace.

i TABLE OF CONTENTS List of tables……………………………………………………………………………………...iii Chapter 1:Introduction to the Study...............................................................................................1 Introduction.................................................................................................................................1 Background.................................................................................................................................4 ProblemStatement......................................................................................................................7 Purpose........................................................................................................................................9 Theoretical Framework...............................................................................................................9 Diathesis Stress Model..............................................................................................................10 Social Identity Theory...............................................................................................................11 Scope and Limitations...............................................................................................................12 Significance of Study................................................................................................................13 Definition of Terms...................................................................................................................14 Research Questions...................................................................................................................15 Research Hypotheses................................................................................................................15 Summary...................................................................................................................................16 Chapter 2:Literature Review........................................................................................................17 Psychological Adaptation and Social Change..........................................................................20 Social Support as a Coping Strategy.........................................................................................21 Ethnic Identity and Psychological Health.................................................................................24 SES and Help Seeking Behavior...............................................................................................28 Diathesis-Stress Model and the Stress of Immigration.............................................................30 Research Findings on Immigrants’ Adaptation........................................................................32 Description of Research Variables............................................................................................34 Ethnic Identity...........................................................................................................................35 Socioeconomic Status...............................................................................................................37 Alternative Methodologies........................................................................................................38 Summary...................................................................................................................................39 Chapter 3:Methodology...............................................................................................................41 Research Questions...................................................................................................................41 Hypotheses................................................................................................................................42 Participants................................................................................................................................42 Measurements...........................................................................................................................44 The Personal Resources Questionnaire.....................................................................................45 The SymptomChecklist- 90 – Revised....................................................................................46 Multi-group Ethnic Identity Measure.......................................................................................48 Hollingshead Index of Socioeconomic Status..........................................................................49 Attitude Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale..........................................49 Data Analysis............................................................................................................................50 Summary...................................................................................................................................53 Chapter 4:Results.........................................................................................................................55 Research Results.......................................................................................................................57 Summary...................................................................................................................................63

ii Chapter 5:Summary,Conclusion,Recommendations and Implications.....................................64 Diathesis Stress Model..............................................................................................................64 Social Support and Psychological Adaptation..........................................................................65 Ethnic Identity and Psychological Adaptation..........................................................................66 Limitations................................................................................................................................68 Implications for Social Change.................................................................................................69 Recommendations for Actions..................................................................................................71 Recommendation for Further Study..........................................................................................73 Summary...................................................................................................................................74 Concluding Statements.............................................................................................................75 References.....................................................................................................................................77 CurriculumVita............................................................................................................................91

iii LIST OF TABLES 1.Participants countries of origin……………………………………………………………….45 2.Demographic Table………………………………………………………….………..............46 3.Demographic Table……………………………………….......................................................56 4.Demographic Table…………………………………………………………………...............57 5.Hierarchical Regression Analysis:6 variables and Social support as the predictor variable…………………………………………………………………………………..............59 6.Hierarchical Regression Analysis:4 variables and Socioeconomic status as the predictor variable…………………………………………………………………………………..............60 7.Hierarchical Regression Analysis:5 variables and Multigroup Ethnic Identity measure as the predictor variable……..…………………..…………………................................................62 8.Correlation Matrix……………………………………….........................................................63

1 CHAPTER 1:INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY Introduction Adapting to a new society and culture is difficult and stressful for many immigrants.“Immigrants may experience feelings of confusion,anxiety and sadness. This holds especially true for recent immigrants” (Goldenberg &Goldenberg,2002,p. 329).The limited research and increase in the growth of the Caribbean immigrant population in the United States point to a growing need to understand factors that impact the psychological and social adaptation of this population.Bengi-Arslan,Verhulst,and Crijen (2002) observed that the differences between the immigrant’s culture of origin and the host culture “places the immigrant in the precarious situation of having to understand and function within a culture and systemof beliefs that are foreign to them and,in some cases,clash with their beliefs” (p.121). Given the many stressors that immigrants face,such as separation fromfriends and family,cultural differences,possible economic difficulties,and hardships that are usually involved in starting over in a new country,it would be a reasonable to expect that immigrants experience psychological and emotional difficulties as they adjust to a new culture.Elovitz and Kahn (1997) agreed that the process of acculturation and transition fromone culture to another is often an “overwhelming task that impacts the immigrant’s sense of self and well-being” (p.67).Factors such as socioeconomic status (SES),social and family support,and ethnic identity may play a role in the mental health and adaptation abilities of Caribbean immigrants.According to Enchautegui and Malone (1997),“In the 1990’s approximately half of all new immigrants were women between the ages of 18-64” (p.28).As the number of female immigrants increases,so does their

2 need for services that address not only their physical needs but also their psychological and social needs.Tilburg and Vingehoets (1997) suggested that the “separation from support networks might be worsened by immigrants’ individuality,social skills and the discomfort experienced when accessing new forms of support” (p.67);this in turn could impact their psychological adaptation. Social support and social networking are essential coping mechanisms often utilized by immigrants.Social support may come fromwithin or fromoutside the family by way of extended family,friends and community members.Tilburg and Vingehoets further stated that social support might be in the forms of encouragement,loans and information on housing or employment (p.24).These kinds of support may serve to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety,and improve the immigrant’s coping abilities (Tilburg &Vingerhoets,1997).Katsching (1986) found that factors such as support from friends and family may serve to cushion some of the feelings that are often experienced in stressful situations.Other findings seemto suggest that illnesses and disorders may develop as a result of factors within the individual,and may be impacted by stress in the environment,and the availability of support fromfriends and family (Abela & D’Alessandro,2002;Monroe &Simmons,1991).The leaving behind of family,friends and culture that often results when individuals relocate to another country may cause feelings of isolation and loneliness (Furnham&Shiekh,1993). In many English-speaking Caribbean cultures the extended family is usually the primary source of support.The decrease or loss of this type of support that many women experience through the immigration process could have long-termimplications and may be influenced by whether family reunification was a motivation for migration.For

3 example,women who enter the United States for the purpose of reuniting with a spouse or other family members may have more available support than women who enter solely for employment or personal development. Employment,family reunification and economic development have all been cited by authors like Foner (1999) as possible motivation for female immigration.Foner observed that recent female immigrants “face important societal changes” as many females out of necessity often have to find the means to provide for themselves and dependent family members who maybe unable or unwilling to find gainful employment. This may be due,in part,to the willingness of female immigrants’ to take menial,low paying jobs in order to provide for themselves and their families.Momsen,(1993) suggested that in recent years there has been some increase in the literature addressing issues related to women including issues of immigration,which indicated that “gender differences in immigration patterns reflect complex economic and cultural factors”(p.54). Tilburg and Vingehoets (1997) stressed the important impact that changes in the physical and social environment have on immigrants and families as they attempted to become assimilated into a new culture.Such changes may place individuals at risk of developing biological and psychological disorders (Kaplan &Saddock,1998).The social support and social networking provided by family members and friends is a vital coping resource for female immigrants and their families.For instance,grandparents in many Caribbean countries are often the main caregivers for children whose parents seek employment in cities or other countries.In other cases,extended family members such as aunts,uncles and cousins are the main source of support and nurturing for nuclear families.Goldenberg and Goldenberg (2002) stated that “extended families are

4 commonly composed of relatives who have a variety of blood ties,but are,nevertheless, absorbed into a coherent network of mutual support,economically,socially and interpersonally” (p.313). Background Caribbean societies,like all other societies,have been shaped by their history and geographical location (Mintz &Price,1985).The common practice of leaving one’s homeland to find employment and improve one’s status in life has been a recurring theme in Caribbean cultures over centuries and is still a common practice today.For many female immigrants the opportunity to leave their country of origin is seen as a first step in the quest for self-improvement,especially for those Caribbean immigrants who are from impoverished and disadvantaged background.Such practices continue today and are common in many Caribbean countries.The lure of economic independence through employment is a significant motivation for many female immigrants,who often foster dreams of improving their personal and family situations through gainful employment. Caribbean countries such as Jamaica,Trinidad,Barbados,and St.Vincent, Guyana,St.Lucia,Antigua,St.Kitts,Virgin Islands and Granada share English as their official language.In many of these islands,the food,cultural habits and music have a strong African influence while other Caribbean countries may have more of an Asian or Hispanic influence.Irrespective of the commonalties or differences that exist among certain Caribbean countries,common motivations for immigration include economic opportunities,the need for personal growth and reuniting with family members. Enchautegui and Malone (1997) observed that the task of identifying and deciphering

5 variables that affect the “international immigration of females” is often a difficult and tedious one (p.22).In many instances immigration involves economic and social adjustments within the host culture,as many communities venture to provide services to address the needs of various immigrant groups. The toll of immigration is therefore experienced not only by the immigrants themselves but also by the members of the society into which these immigrants attempt to integrate themselves (Reitz,2002).The socioeconomic status of new immigrants is an important variable to consider,as there are important implications for both the host society and the immigrant themselves.While many immigrants may be reluctant to seek governmental assistance,whether it is mental health services,financial,or otherwise,the need for assistance and support is a reality for many immigrants though some may choose not to seek and utilize such services.Reitz (2002) posited that “immigrants and the host society must adjust to one another,as the economic and cultural environment is defined through their interaction” (p.1010). The dreamof reuniting with the family is another identified factor that has contributed to female immigration to the United States.In the hope of improving their economic situation,many families endure long separation,as spouses,sisters and children leave their relatives behind in the home country.Women who immigrated for the purpose of reunification often do so with the intention of being able to provide assistance and support to those with whomthey are reunited.This,however,may require sacrifices on the part of other family members (Enchautegui &Malone 1997).For example,a mother and wife may leave her children in the care of other family members,such as the

6 grandparent,as she reunites with her husband who may have entered the host country with the intention of his family joining himat a later time. Immigrant women’s economic status may serve as a predictor of this population seeking and utilizing mental health services.A higher SES may be associated with a willingness to seek and utilize mental health care.This may be due,in part,to the struggle that low-income females often face when providing for the physical needs of their families.In such situations,emotional and psychological needs maybe ignored,as the focus is on basic survival needs such as food,shelter and clothing.Al-Issa and Tousigrant (1997) suggested that individuals who experience economic difficulties may under use available “mental health services” (p.279).In addition,immigrant women concerned about the stigma associated with seeking help froma mental health professional may turn to friends,family and other social groups within their communities, for help in dealing with the stress of adapting to a new culture.However,this kind of support may not adequately address more serious mental health conditions such as major depression,anxiety disorders and adjustment disorders.For many immigrant women fromCaribbean countries,the social support available within their ethnic groups helped themadapt and established identities in relation to the new society. The term“West Indian” has historical connotations,some negative and others positive.It has often been used to describe individuals fromEnglish-speaking Caribbean countries.Although there are differences in cultural background,demographics and geography,there are also commonalties such as in the food,music and a shared history of colonization that helped shape the cultural identity of the people of that region (Waters, 1999).

7 Ethnic identity,which is considered a category of social identity,has also been implicated in immigrants’ psychological adaptation.For example,Kibour (2001) examined the difficulties that Ethiopian immigrants experienced,given that their identities are likely to be based mainly on the color of their skin in Western culture.He found that this resulted in feelings of “stress in adjustment,as these immigrants were relegated to a minority status,whereas in their culture of origin they were considered in the majority” (p.48).Ethier and Deaux (1994) found that identification with one’s ethnic group is useful in defining the “self” in the context of the new society.They pointed out that through the process of moving fromone culture to another,“the individual’s sense of self and identity also requires adaptation as new sources of support must be identified in the absence of support that was available in the former culture” ( p.244).The adjustments required of English-speaking Caribbean immigrant women,who are also considered minorities upon entering the United States,was similar to the experiences of immigrants in Kibour’s study,as many experienced discrimination and a loss of status when they entered a society in which they were no longer in the majority. Problem Statement This study addressed the problemof stress,role of social support,ethnic identity, socioeconomic status,and the emotional and psychological toll that female Caribbean immigrants experienced as they attempted to adapt to the American society.Research suggests that immigrants experience various stressors and disorientation during the process of adapting to a new,unfamiliar society and culture.In addition,immigrants from minority groups often experience an increase in feelings of stress and vulnerability (Al-

8 Issa &Tousignant,1997).Studies conducted with other immigrant groups suggest that loss fromleaving behind family and other members of the support network is linked to an increase of mental health problems among immigrant groups (Conteras &Lopez,1999; McIntyre &Augosto,1999).In addition,research related to the effectiveness of coping strategies utilized by female English-speaking Caribbean immigrants is limited. A number of mental health conditions have been found among immigrant groups across the globe.These include,but are not limited to,anxiety,depression,posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),and substance abuse (Foster,2001).The identification and utilization of effective coping strategies serve may not only to enhance psychological, social and emotional adaptation but may also reduce the rate of mental illness among Caribbean immigrants.In a study that examined psychiatric illness among Caribbean immigrants in Britain,Littlewood and Lipsedge (1988) observed that Caribbean immigrants were “3-12 times more likely” than those of the majority population to experience psychological disorders such as schizophrenia (p.951).Social support and ethnic identity have been identified as variables that play important roles in the adaptation of immigrant groups.Research on immigrant populations has mainly focused on male immigrants of Hispanic,Asian,and European origin.Studies on how female immigrants adapt to a new society are inadequate.In this study social support and ethnic identity were examined as predictors of the psychological adaptation of female immigrants fromCaribbean countries,and socioeconomic status is examined as a predictor of help seeking behavior and the likelihood of formal mental health service utilization.

9 Purpose In spite of the growing number of Caribbean immigrants in the United States, research on the coping behaviors used as they adapt to a new society is sparse.Studies conducted in other countries such as the United Kingdomand Canada found that there was a higher rate of mental illness among immigrants than among nonimmigrant populations (Littlewood &Lipsedge,1988).This study focused on understanding the factors that contribute to the mental health of female Caribbean immigrants and how mental health professionals can better serve this population by providing services that address their unique needs.This study also considered the relevance of social support, ethnic identity and SES in predicting the adaptation of this immigrant group.It was predicted that high SES is positively correlated with utilization of mental health services. A self-administered battery of questionnaires allowed the researcher to investigate coping strategies and how the female Caribbean immigrants adapted to their new culture. Theoretical Framework The experience of immigration is undoubtedly stressful and impacts the individual’s ability to adapt to the new environment.The diathesis-stress model has been used in various studies as a means of investigating the onset of certain mental health conditions,and is based on the belief that the presence of stress in an individual that is vulnerable will result in breakdown and pathology (Monroe &Simons,1991).Social identity theory,which focuses on understanding and providing clarity to the link between identity and behavior,has also been incorporated in many immigrant studies (Ellemers, Spears &Doosje,1997).In one such study,Utsey,Chae,Brown and Kelly (2002) found

10 that identifying with one’s ethnic group had significant implications for the physical, social and personal well-being of immigrants.Having a sense of belonging enhanced and improved the immigrants’ feelings about their ability to manage stressful situations. Membership in a particular group may also mean that there was more available support that the immigrant could access,should the need arise.This study highlighted conditions that challenged immigrants’ mental health and the role of SES,social support and ethnic identity in managing feelings of stress as they adapted to a new society. Diathesis Stress Model Separation fromfriends and family,coupled with the experience of cultural shock,has been implicated in findings that suggested that Caribbean immigrants suffer froma higher rate of mental disorders (Littlewood &Lipsedge,1998).In the absence of social support,the stress of identity conflicts,difficulty in finding adequate housing and employment,feelings of isolation and discrimination,often impinged on the immigrant’s ability to adapt socially and otherwise to the new society. The termdiathesis-stress model as described by Kaplan and Sadock,(1998) included environmental as well as biological factors.For example,individuals with a tendency for a particular mental or physical illness may succumb and develop such conditions in the presence of environmental factors like the trauma and stress of immigration.Many individuals,including immigrants,are unaware that they may have particular predispositions for certain illness.This lack of awareness can further complicate a physical or mental breakdown which may result fromexposure to stressful

11 situations.The diathesis-stress model has proven useful in the investigation of various mental and physical conditions and provides a theoretical framework for this study. Social Identity Theory Ethnic identity is a category of social identity focused on understanding how individuals’ behavior is impacted by their membership in a particular group (Ellmers, Spears &Doosje,1997).For Caribbean immigrant women,the experience of transitioning fromcultures where blacks formthe majority to a new society where they are no longer considered a majority,but are often subjected to discrimination and prejudice,can result shock and confusion.Ethier and Deaux (1994) found that immigrants may change their behavior in relation to cultural group membership depending on the level of stress experienced in a particular situation.Some immigrants may choose to move toward and embrace their membership in their ethnic group, whereas in other situations,some deny such affiliation.As immigrants seek to define and identify themselves in the context of the host society,they experience what Berry (1980) referred to as acculturation.While going through acculturation,immigrants often adjust the self-concept in reference to the new society (Ryder et al.2000).Acculturation for the female Caribbean immigrant may necessitate the identification and utilization of coping techniques to manage stress and trauma that is a part of immigration.This study investigated and sought to better understand the factors influencing the psychological adaptation of the female Caribbean immigrant.

12 Scope and Limitations Some limitations of this study were as follows: 1.Sample size.Although the sample size (n = 70) is typical for research done with immigrant groups,the sample size was somewhat small.For a more thorough investigation,a larger sample may be desirable.In the present study,due to resource constraints,a larger sample was not feasible. 2.Limited segment.The study used only female West Indian immigrants in a certain geographic region as participants.This excluded a large segment of immigrants fromother areas. 3.Selection of variables.The study variables did not fully address the intricacy of the difficulties faced by this immigrant group.The findings of this study provided support for further research and investigation of other variables that could play important roles in the adaptation of Caribbean and other immigrant groups. To address the above limitations,future investigation into the psychological adaptation of immigrants could benefit fromlarger samples.In order to complete a more thorough investigation,equivalent groups of males,females,and members of other immigrant groups would be required.The goal of this study was to broaden the knowledge and understanding of those who have an interest in improving the quality of life for this immigrant population.

13 Significance of Study Race,ethnicity,culture and diversity are pressing societal issues.Diaz (1998) observed that as the United States becomes more diversified with the arrival of individuals fromvarying backgrounds and nationalities,mental health professionals should be required to provide services for this diverse population.Mental health practitioners and other social change agents need to actively work to understand and reach out to immigrant populations,who may otherwise go without services that could improve their life situations and adaptation to a new society. Research on immigrant populations has mainly focused on male immigrants of Hispanic,Asian,and European origin.Studies on how female immigrants adapt to a new society are inadequate.In addition,McLean et al.(2003) commented upon the limited availability of studies that specifically address the “mental health concerns of ethnic minorities” (p.660).As the female Caribbean immigrant populations increase,mental health practitioners and other service providers are recognizing the challenges of providing competent care to this population and the social change that must occur in order to efficiently address this issue.The host country’s social environment with regards to employment,discrimination,values and standards of conduct also compromise the psychological well-being of female immigrants. Research has not documented the coping strategies of female Caribbean immigrants in their psychological adaptation to the host society.This study considered the relevance of social support and ethnic identity in predicting the adaptation of this immigrant group and the role of SES in the willingness of immigrants to seek mental health services.Researchers have not adequately investigated the role of SES in female

14 Caribbean immigrants’ decision to seek mental health services fromcommunity agencies. Alvidrez,Azocar and Miranda (1996) observed that SES and other variables specific to minority cultures are often ignored in studies that focused on these groups. This study served to broaden the understanding of the psychological experience of female immigrants and highlighted the difficulties they face when transitioning from one culture to another.The growing needs of ethnic minority immigrants require that service providers and professionals in the broader society take the necessary steps to address the psychological needs of this diverse population.This will bring about much- needed social change in this area. Definition of Terms Acculturation:The interaction and change that is experienced by an individual or group when faced with cultural differences (William&Berry,1991). Coping:The method that is employed by the individual in an effort to deal with stressful situations or events (Lazarus &Folkman,1984). Diathesis-stress:The development of pathology in an organismwhen there is a predisposition and stress (Monroe &Simon,1991). Ethnic identity:Feelings that the individual experiences about self in reference to membership in an ethnic group (Phinney,1990). Immigrants:Individuals who leave their country of origin to resettle in a new society or country (Dunlevy,1991). Psychological adaptation:Immigrants:Individuals who leave their country of origin to resettle in a new society or country (Dunlevy,1991).

15 Social support:The receipt of “emotional,instrumental or financial aide” such as encouragement,employment information,or the receipt of a loan family friends and network of (Bowling,1994,P.1) Socioeconomic status:The position that people hold in reference to their occupation,income,and position in the community (Gordon,1969). The quality of life that involves both physical and mental health and the fulfillments that an individual experiences (Zheng &Berry,1991). Well-being:Involves an absence of a decline in “physical and psychological symptoms” with an increase in the approval and acceptance of the self (Seltzer, Greenbold,Floyd &Horg,2004). Research Questions The researcher examined whether the independent variables (social support and ethnic identity) predicted the psychological adaptation of female Caribbean immigrants. The other research question asked whether SES could predict immigrants’ decision to seek mental health services fromcommunity agencies.Hierarchical multiple regressions were used in analyzing the relationship among the variables in the study. Research Hypotheses 1.The variable social support,as measured by the Personal Resources Questionnaire,will significantly predict the psychological adaptation of female Caribbean immigrants as measured by the SCL-90-R global indices of distress (Global

16 Severity Index,Positive SymptomDistress Index,and the Positive SymptomTotal) such that the stronger the social support,the better the psychological adaptation. 2.High SES,as measured by Hollingshead Index of Socioeconomic Status,will be positively correlated with the mental health-seeking behavior of Caribbean female immigrants as measured by the Attitude Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale,such that the higher the SES the greater the likelihood for seeking mental health services. 3.Ethnic identity,as measured by the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure,will predict the psychological adaptation of Caribbean females such that the stronger the ethnic identity,the better the psychological adaptation. Summary This study investigated social support,ethnic identity and SES as independent predictors of the psychological adaptation and help-seeking behavior of female Caribbean immigrants.Literature relevant to the purpose of the research is presented in chapter 2. Chapter 3 presents the methodology used in the study including sampling procedures, research procedures,and sample characteristics.This chapter also reports on the reliability and validity of the instruments used in the study.Chapter 4 illustrates the findings of the study and the analysis used,while chapter 5 provides the summary, possible implications,conclusions,and recommendation for further research.The appendix,located at the end of the reference section,includes the recruitment letter, consent forms,questionnaire,and curriculumvitae.

17 CHAPTER 2:LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter includes a review and analysis of relevant literature on issues that affect women fromCaribbean countries and other immigrant populations.This review focuses on the variables that formthe basis of this study;however,variables considered in previous research are also discussed.The methodologies employed in previous research and those used in this dissertation are also reviewed. The review begins with issues that have impacted immigrant populations and then narrows to areas examined by this study.The construct social change and its relevance to the study of immigrants’ adaptation to a new culture is also reviewed.Social support, ethnic identity,and SES and their relationship to the help-seeking behavior of female immigrants are also discussed in this chapter.A description of the research variables is included,as well as the diathesis-stress model of mental health,which served as a framework for this investigation.Since stress associated with immigration is considered a significant factor in psychological health and adaptation,the diathesis model was considered appropriate for this study.The literature search involved identifying authors in bibliographic references about immigrant studies.A review of abstracts of journals,in mental health and other disciplines,was used to identify relevant studies.Findings are critically reviewed and integrated to justify and support the purpose of the research. The literature on immigration and its link to psychological distress among immigrant populations reveals that immigration is a stressful process that has resulted in a higher rate of mental illness among immigration groups (Mcgovern &Hemmings, 1994;Mclean,Campbell,&Cornish,2003).Few studies specifically examined the experience of Caribbean immigrants in the United States,and even fewer focused on the

18 psychological adaptation of female Caribbean immigrants (Dechensnay,2002;Leonidas &Hyppolite,1983;Orozco,Todorova,&Louie,2000). Waters (1999) noted that “an increase in migration frommany Caribbean islands was predicated on the poor performance of the local economies and few opportunities for personal and financial growth of their populations” (p.46).Many immigrant women from the Caribbean settle in areas that offer greater employment prospects and provide easy access to goods and services.Since personal growth and financial opportunities were cited as motivators for immigration,it stands to reason that many Caribbean immigrants would settle in areas where employment opportunities are available.Adaptation to a new environment and culture often place people under emotional and psychological strain, which may lead to accepting norms and beliefs counter to those of the individuals’ culture and personal belief system(Foner,1997). Beliefs regarding family relations,religion,and cultural values are of concern for many immigrant families,who are concerned about preserving the practices and aspects of their culture and passing themonto their offspring.Many immigrants may be reluctant to adapt to norms and laws such as those related to raising and disciplining children. Differences in norms and behavior between the immigrant’s culture of origin and that of the new society determine Abstract the level of “culture shock” experienced by immigrants (Al-Issa &Tousigrant (1997,p.45). Many immigrants enter the United States with little understanding and knowledge of racial and ethnic relations in the United States and how to cope with the differences, which they face on a daily basis.When confronted with new and unfamiliar attitudes and behavior,immigrants may draw on their cultural links to manage and cope with the stress

Full document contains 103 pages
Abstract: Adapting to a new society and culture is difficult and stressful for many immigrants. The limited research on and increase in the growth of the Caribbean immigrant population in the United States point to a growing need to understand factors that impact psychological and social adaptation. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationships among social support, ethnic identity, socioeconomic status, psychological adaptation, and attitude towards seeking professional psychological help among Caribbean immigrant women. Seventy female Caribbean immigrants between 21 and 70 years of age participated in the study. A semistructured interview that included administration of the Personal Resource Questionnaire, Symptom Checklist-90-R, Hollingshead Index of Socioeconomic Status, Attitude Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale, and Phinney's Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure was used to obtain data about participants' adjustment experiences, coping strategies, and psychological symptomology. Hierarchical multiple regression and correlation analyses were used to assess the relationships between the variables highlighted in the study. Findings indicated no significant relationship between the social support and psychological adaptation, between socioeconomic status and utilization of services, and between ethnic identity and psychological adaptation. However, social support was positively correlated with ethnic identity and negatively correlated with attitude towards seeking professional psychological help. As immigrant populations continue to increase, the need also increases for mental health professionals to provide relevant services to immigrants, particularly women who are plagued with problems of ''inequality'' and unfairness in the workplace.